The current drought afflicting the country is driving up the price of corn and reviving the debate over ethanol mandates that redirect corn from food to fuel.
Because of the drought, corn yield per acre this year will be the lowest since 1995, while the actual production of corn will be the lowest since 2006. A congressional mandate to turn corn into ethanol in order to reduce emissions requires converting nearly 40 percent of that harvest into 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol. That leaves precious little to feed cattle and people, driving up the price.
President Obama made sure that Iowa farmers knew that he was “there for them” during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on August 13, by announcing another package of “aid” during the drought. The aid will involve the purchase of $100 million of pork, $50 million of chicken, and $10 million each of lamb and catfish. This comes on top of $30 million of aid announced last week.
The latest numbers from China on its gross domestic product, factory output and electricity usage all show a bubble bursting. Kevin Yao, writing from Beijing for Reuters, expressed surprise when the latest numbers about China’s factory output came in at its lowest level in three years: “China’s factory output growth slowed unexpectedly in July…[due to] stiff global headwinds…”
Foreclosures of homes are increasing, July economic reports reveal. Homes are the most important asset that ordinary Americans possess, and the value of that asset was long presumed by middle class Americans to be one which would steadily increase over time, punctuated occasionally and in some regions with soft markets and in other regions with quicker growth. Over the last four years, however, the value of the American home has been stagnant, even as the cost of living has increased.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is attracting renewed scrutiny after an outraged senior official resigned last month, saying he was “ashamed” to even be associated with the Fund while publicly blasting it for “incompetence,” illegitimate selection of “tainted” leadership, and suppressing critical information.
After serving at the global organization for some two decades, IMF economist Peter Doyle — a former division chief at the European Department and a respected advisor when he jumped ship — also said many of the problems were actually “becoming more deeply entrenched.”
“After twenty years of service, I am ashamed to have had any association with the Fund at all,” Doyle wrote.
Biotech companies such as Monsanto, with help from the U.S. government, are starting to overcome the EU's resistance to Genetically Modified crops. However, there is growing opposition to GM crops in the United States.
When shipping and supply managers were quizzed about their current outlooks by two separate reporting agencies, their answers were the same: Orders are slowing and so is production of manufactured goods. The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), released in late June, and the Report on Business of the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), which was released on Monday, each showed significant slowing. The PMI’s manufacturing index came in at its lowest level since last July, while new orders for durable goods (autos and appliances) fell sharply in June, continuing a trend downward since early spring. It also showed a decline in the backlog of orders, the first since last September.
When the New York Times reported that the losses resulting from the failed trade made by JP Morgan Chase (JPM) earlier this year could reach $9 billion instead of the $2 billion initially reported, some said it didn’t matter while others called for more regulations. Few considered that such trades, and consequent losses, were inevitable and would likely continue because of the implied taxpayer backstop.
First, it should be noted that, contrary to JPM CEO Jamie Dimon’s statement that the trade was due to “errors, sloppiness and bad judgment,” and was “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored,” the people in JPM’s London office knew exactly what they were doing. Furthermore, Dimon was aware of what they were doing, was warned in advance of potential losses, and did nothing about it.
Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 11 Brazilian banks on June 27. Some banks had reductions of a single level, but some went down three levels. This action was tied to the sovereign debt credit rating of the government of Brazil.